Transmission was released as a 7" single in the UK on October 7, 1979, after Unknown Pleasures and before Closer. In December, 1980 (after Closer was released) the first edition of the 12" single was released, which is the pressing I have. The flip-side is Novelty. This is a brilliant, bleak, and perhaps depressing song. There is something tortuous in the music.Wikipedia provides this summary:
Greil Marcus has a chapter on this song in his book The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. According to Marcus, "'Transmission' is not an argument. It's a dramatization of the realization that the act of listening to the radio is a suicidal gesture. It will kill your mind. It will rob your soul." Marcus also quotes the band's bassist Peter Hook about the importance of this song: "We were doing a soundcheck at the Mayflower, in May, and we played 'Transmission': people had been moving around, and they all stopped to listen. I realized that was our first great song." [source]The idea that this song is "a dramatization of the realization that the act of listening to the radio is a suicidal gesture," seems to me to make a lot of sense in hindsight, but I can't imagine anyone coming to this conclusion at the time.